The Greatest Athlete Ever?

The New York Times has a point-counterpoint article debating who may be the best athlete ever. Who comes to mind?
If it is Michael Jordan, Roger Federer or Lance Armstrong, you are not correct. According to the NY Times, it just may be Tiger Woods. Yes, this obviously annoys me. Sigh…

The debate regarding the credibility of golf as a sport is the subject here. According to the argument that Tiger is the “man” for this title of Best Athlete, “Those that feel that golfers are not athletes are knuckelheads”.
Well call me a knuckelhead.

Yes, golf is a skill, an activity, even a sport. But athletic?
Where is the pain? Where are the grimaces? Where is the mano a mano? Sorry, I need suffering. I need to see someone digging deep, I need to see skilled combat where each athlete is performing at their maximum output.

Watching someone perform their sport in an argyle cashmere sweater pales in comparison to the Paris Roubaix finisher barely recognizable from all the dirt and sweat. Or, Scott Jurek at mile 75 of a 100 mile race, turning it on to drop his competition during his fifth straight Western States victory. As we sit and watch these endurance athletes operate from their cores, we marvel at the ability of a human to both perform as an athlete while at the same time dealing with tremendous suffering.

Burned into our memories are visions of the nordic ski racer collapsing on the finish line in exhaustion, or the marathon runner barely able to walk at the finish when moments before they were in full stride, or Lance Armstrong decidedly dropping his competition in the Pyrenees on day 18 of the Tour de France. We remember these iconic moments because they are something even more than sport, they are humans at their limit, not the golfer in his slacks smiling and strutting back to the clubhouse post PGA victory.

Tiger Woods record is without a doubt impressive; he is a champion and he is an amazing athlete based on his domination of his sport. His focus and skill impress us. But, when the comparison begins to other sports. Sorry, pal.


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